9th May | Hy-Brasil
Curiously the clouds began to part for the first time in twelve hours as I made my way towards Hy-Brasil by way of the city’s historic harbour. I mention this only as it provides a fitting metaphor for the night ahead, an ever-present vein of ‘old meets new’, a bed of nostalgia beneath an awning of more modern influence.
This begins with Afternoon, the multi-faceted pet project of Will Carkeet, a wonky cacophony of glistening keys and warbling guitars, held together by a sincere and present vocal. Scattered amongst the tiny stage lay trinkets of a musical past: an old Casio keyboard, a burnt orange Dan Electro guitar and the clear focal point, a Fostex reel-to-reel tape machine, acting as the backing to half of this set. These tracks were truly impressive, sprawling and expansive, with Carkeet’s energetic stage presence allowing himself to become entangled within the biting flairs of guitar and percussion crawling out into the venue. With a full band outing promised in the near future, this is definitely a refreshing project to keep an eye out for.
Next in line came Vinegar, a multi-headed ensemble wrangling 90s alt-rock sensibilities into a pen of lo-fi Dylanesque musings. On record, Vinegar seem to lean more toward the bluesy, jagged facets of their sound but in a live setting their compositions become a different beast, lofty and frayed with a snarling sense of purpose. Tight, intricate rhythms are caught by meandering guitars. Sultry and visceral, their hooks are delivered with a nasal attitude matched only by a young Billy Corgan or Black Francis.
It’s not just here that the band seem to take influence from Pixies; the quiet verse to loud chorus dynamic shift that gifted Nirvana its edge is prominent amongst Vinegar’s catalogue. With the addition of several layers of instrumentation, though, this compositional choice hits with much more impact and assists the band in commanding their audience with impressive results. The sheer weight of the act’s driving rhythm section offers an expansive bed for the delicate buzz of both its guitars and its vocals to drift atop and spiral out into the crowd. I’ll certainly be seeking out this experience again.
Finally, headliners bdrmm take their place on stage and though, unfortunately, the room has dwindled in numbers, this seems to have no adverse effect on the passion in the Hull quintet’s performance. Straight out of the gates, there’s an air of urgency to the band’s persona, a Ritalin rhythm with sparks of punk sensibility provides a hardy backbone to buzz-tooth guitars and their dichotomy of woozy flange to grinding drive. Their presence on stage oozes camaraderie as the band become a swarming organism, larger than their respective parts, though maybe focusing on this in favour of inviting the crowd to become one with them.
There’s a distinct memory of Krautrock to much of the band’s rhythmic output, with many tracks swapping out a more obvious verse-chorus-verse structure for a building crescendo. Several songs end in a controlled chaotic flourish, the exception to this rule being their most recent single ‘Heaven’ which is undeniably a highlight of the set. bdrmm wear their influences on their sleeve, with comparisons to DIIV, Superfood and Girls being maybe a little too obvious, though with an injection of a little more experimentation they could really hone in on a niche of their own.
See bdrmm play live in session here: